Day 1: Guayaquil, Ecuador

Hi all! I made it back safely from my trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands on Friday afternoon. I’m looking forward to sharing what I did in about 8 posts, one for each day. If you missed my “Day 0” post, click here to check it out!

My sister, Kelsey, and I landed in Guayaquil, Ecuador around 11:30 pm on Thursday, April 30th. After finding the taxi driver that our hotel had arranged for us, we made our way to Casa de Romero, our hotel for the next 2 nights. We went straight to bed and woke up bright and early the next morning for free breakfast! Most breakfasts that we had in Ecuador consisted of toast with butter and jam, scrambled eggs, and juice. Nothing too fancy, but it was always delicious and a great start to the day!

The temperature was to reach 90 degrees and was already in the high 70’s when we left the hotel around 8:00 am. The first thing we wanted to do was hike the 444 steps to the top of Cerro Santa Ana to get a view of Guayaquil. On the way, we passed Plaza de San Francisco and the Church of San Francisco, shown below.

We made our way to the Malecon 2000, which is similar to a boardwalk along the water and ends at Cerro Santa Ana. We entered the walkway where La Rotonda stands. This monument depicts the historic meeting between Bolivar and San Martin in 1822. It was interesting to see a monument of two men talking, instead of a typical war monument.

From La Rotonda, we walked along the Malecon 2000 towards Cerro Santa Ana, which is the hill in the background of the next picture.

We saw a few cats, lots of joggers, and a few ponds with fish in them. The sun was already beating down on us, so we hurried to the hill. Here’s the view from the very bottom!

Along the stairs, there were plenty of restaurants, souvenir shops, pubs, and places to purchase water. We were there a bit early so people were just starting to open. I can’t imagine having to hike those stairs EVERY day for work!

Before making it to the very top, we stopped at Fortin del Cerro (Fort of the Hill). The cannons were once used to protect Guayaquil from pirates and are still fired today during celebrations.

After almost getting a barrel dropped on my head, we finished the last few steps to the top. Each step from the bottom to the top was “kindly” marked with its number.

The top has a church and a lighthouse. We climbed the 52 steps inside the lighthouse to the very top to get some incredible views of Guayaquil and the Guayas River.

Near the bottom of the hill, we walked to the Church of Santo Domingo, which is the oldest church in Guayaquil. It was founded in 1548 and restored in 1938.

We were getting pretty hot and slightly sunburnt (already!), so we decided to walk back towards our hotel and try to find somewhere to relax. We were in Guayaquil on May 1st, which is apparently Ecuador’s Labor Day. On our way back, we saw what we thought was a parade coming towards us. We didn’t know until we made it back to the hotel that all the people marching in the streets were actually protestors. We got a lot of very strange looks on the side of the road watching. It honestly made me feel a little uncomfortable and I was happy when we were able to cross the street and get away from the crowd.

We got empanadas for $1 (Ecuador uses the US dollar) from a small store near the Plaza de San Francisco for lunch and then headed to Parque Bolivar, aka the Iguana Park.

I’ve never seen so many iguanas in my life! A lady was selling bags of lettuce to feed them for $0.50 so Kelsey and I each got a bag. The iguanas must’ve been hungry because they started swarming when they saw the lettuce. We were a little grossed out by how long their tongues are, but had a fun time feeding them!

After we finished feeding the iguanas, we headed back to the Malecon 2000 to walk around a bit more. We decided to go on a pirate ship tour of the river aboard the Captain Henry Morgan Pirate Ship! It was $7 for an hour ride on the Guayas River. We were trying to escape the heat, so we went for it. It was pretty relaxing and they served drinks and food on board. Here’s me on the boat:

The hill in the picture below is the one we hiked earlier in the day.

When we got off the ship, we saw children playing around inside balls on the little pond. I couldn’t help but take a picture. Seemed very… “interesting” haha.

We went to our tour information session around 6:30 pm and then headed to dinner at Cocolon near Plaza de San Francisco. The food was okay, but not my favorite. We tried to eat typical Ecuadorian food, so it may have been good if you’re a more adventurous eater than me!

That concluded our day in Guayaquil. Here’s a short video I made with all the clips from my day in Guayaquil:

Stay tuned for Day 2 where we meet up with our Contiki tour group and head to the Galapagos Islands!

Resources:

  • Lonely Planet’s Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands – Such a great travel guide for Guayaquil and other places throughout Ecuador. I actually saw several people using the same book during my trip!
  • Casa de Romero – I really liked this hotel. Kelsey and I stayed in a 2 bed room with a private bathroom for $23.50 a person per night. Not bad! It was centrally located, had free breakfast, and a strong wifi connection in the lounge area!
  • Malecon 2000 (website in Spanish) – Such a nice place to walk around. It’s gated and also has security available while it’s opened.
  • Captain Henry Morgan Pirate Ship – I enjoyed the 1 hour boat ride of the river, but they didn’t explain what you were looking at. Some people from our tour group went to karaoke and said it was an older crowd and wouldn’t go back.
  • Cocolon Restaurant – They serve traditional Ecuadorian food. My meal was okay and it was a little pricey, but definitely a good place to go if you want to try Ecuadorian food.

Have you ever been to Guayaquil? If so, what was your favorite part?

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